Prime Minister’s Questions – 10 May 2000


Mr. Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield): One day, I should like to ask my right hon. Friend a question about something other than Rover, but today is not the day. Will he join me in congratulating John Towers and his team on proving all the critics wrong and acquiring Rover Cars for the Phoenix consortium? Does he agree that the great thing about the Phoenix bid is that it has been a real co-operative effort involving the trade unions, who have been magnificent, and the support of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry from day one? Does my right hon. Friend further agree that the real tribute has to go to the workers at Longbridge and their families, who have had to put up with the most appalling uncertainty for too long? They have come through that and can now get on with what they do best–making quality cars that people want to buy.

The Prime Minister: They do make quality cars. As my hon. Friend said, it has been a co-operative effort and we pay tribute to Mr. Towers and to the trade unions. I certainly pay tribute also to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry for the immense amount of work that he did. The work force have earned their colours here and they have done quite magnificently. It is as a result of their dedication and the faith in them that Mr. Towers was able to put together his bid. We wish it well and we stand ready to help in whatever way we can. For those people who will lose their jobs–who are now, thankfully, far fewer in number–we stand ready to help with money, investment and advice on getting a new job.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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